The Vitality of What Will Be

After a busy summer of working at a historic house, reading submissions for a Philadelphia literary journal, participating in Bryn Mawr’s summer beekeeping apprenticeship, and dog-sitting, I am back for my final year at Bryn Mawr. This was the first year I did not return home to Minneapolis for the summer, and I feel like I was launched into the school year without a chance to catch my breath. It’s already the fourth week of classes, and the semester is barreling forward at full speed. I am currently taking two senior seminars, one for my English major and one for my Spanish major; a class on British and American children’s literatures of the 19th century; and introductory German. I am still finding my routine, and carving out space to reflect and develop the non-academic parts of myself.

 

This year I am living in Rockefeller Hall, which was also where I lived my first year. Rock has a distinct personality; it is full of little eccentricities, like the lower-than-average doorknobs and that clean, bright “Rock smell” that no one can quite define, but always makes me nostalgic for freshman year. People unfamiliar with the building find it labyrinthine, with all its winding corridors. Just in these first few weeks, I have had to give directions several times to some confused soul looking for a friend’s room. One of my favorite parts of Rock are all of its public spaces, natural gathering places like the sun-filled nooks at the end of each hall. We also have—in my opinion—the best common room on campus, with alert owls on the bannister and a coven of armchairs. 

One Rock-specific tradition is the painted windows. Most rooms have a window set into the door, and each resident can choose to customize it with water-soluble paints. The tradition is that if a painting is five years old or more, the current resident is encouraged to leave it untouched as a legacy door. This year I got “the Central Perks room,” which has been a traditions door for longer than I’ve been at Bryn Mawr. Although it would be fun to leave my own mark, I am happy to leave this wonderful painting for future generations.

The other thing I am so excited for as a senior—something I have anticipated for three years!—is getting my own carrel in Canaday library. My desk is in the corner by a window, reasonably well tucked away. Canaday has the mostly-deserved reputation of being the site of sleep-deprived studying under the unforgiving glare of fluorescent lights, but when you have your own corner to come back to, it really seems different.

Can you guess what my thesis is about?

What could be cozier than having a little space for yourself, to be able to leave your books and pencils someplace that will always be waiting for you? Maybe I’m getting the nesting urge because it’s autumn now and it’s been raining. This is my favorite season. But if you dread the impending cold weather, I’ll leave you with some wisdom from Mary Oliver who reminds us, in Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness:

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?
So let us go on

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

6 thoughts on “The Vitality of What Will Be

  1. lovely blog post. I enjoyed every line and each photo. I hope your senior year does not go too fast – what a fascinating summer you had. PEN on.

    • Hi Sandra, I truly appreciated all your kind comments! I hope you’ll continue to read my blog this year–senior year is keeping me busy, but I’ll try to share as much as possible!

  2. Wow, that was my window! I lived in Rock for three of my four years at BMC, two with a roommate and one without. I painted that on the window of my single, which I had during my junior year, which started in the fall of 2007. It’s crazy to learn that it’s still there 11 years later. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for commenting, Katie, this was a wonderful message to receive! I’m glad you happened to see my post. Your painting is still well-loved and appreciated by Rock residents!

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